Someone once said, “Spring is a lovely reminder of how beautiful things can be.” Indeed, leaves and grass turn green almost overnight, and flowers pop out of tree branches and up from beds. But, here, in this part of Texas, spring is short-lived. The warmer days we’ve longed for finally show up and just as suddenly hot, humid summer days push spring out of the way.
That’s how it felt two weeks ago when we experienced record heat in mid-May. We blinked, and summer arrived. At almost the same time, school zones disappeared from my daily commute to work. The summer break arrived.
My summertime memories always include the sense of freedom from a swing seat, my legs pumping to go as high as possible. Those were simple times with little more than a few chores to be done every week, library books to read, walks to the Seven-Eleven for a cold Icee, and a stop-off at the swings in the nearby park.
By the time I was fourteen, summertime meant volunteering as a Candy Striper at the local hospital. It was the beginning of a habit of giving that grew with me into adulthood. I took my first “job” quite seriously, returning the following summer to help train the junior newbies. I was, of course, now highly experienced.
Today’s Laid-back Teen, Tomorrow’s Generous Adult
If your teen is lounging around the house, sleeping in till mid-morning and spending their waking hours on Instagram and texting, congratulate them on an excellent job taking a break. Everyone needs some downtime, a good break from their schedule. Kids are no different.
But start now to challenge them to give their time, perhaps even part of their allowance, toward something that matters to them.
Rachel Macy Stafford, the author of the Hands-Free Mama blog, says, “Having a parent who listens creates a child who believes that he or she has a voice that matters in this world.”
Be that parent. Listen to what matters and help them find even small ways to make a difference. Then, do that year after year and watch your child mature into a generous adult.
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says we need to create mini-habits and then systematically repeat them over time to create baked-in behavior changes. He has four simple laws to follow.
Atomic Habit’s Four Laws of Behavior Change
- Make it obvious
- Make it attractive
- Make it easy
- Make it satisfying
If I could add to his list, especially for kids, number five would read: Invite a friend.
Kids love to do things together, in groups – large and small. So help them create a group around the giving activity. Be the taxi driver so you can listen in on their conversation. Somewhere between the latest Instagram post, movie, or pop star, you might catch a line or two about how it felt to give.
Savor those moments. Invite their opinions about how to give more or better next time. Encourage them to dream about how they would make the world a better place.
Our children are much more than the sum of good behavior, grades, talent and accomplishments. They are the future of everything. So, encourage their generosity today because it will matter tomorrow.
And don’t forget to share their stories with grandparents, relatives and friends because none of us accomplish anything alone. Giving is a circle that grows ever wider; loop your kids into the circle as early as possible.
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